January 22, 2018

Reality Vs. Truth

By Barry Rudesill

To all our Trekkers,

This morning, I want to continue our series for our HEART students and families!  (Even though we're in the middle of a blizzard and won't be having class today...)  If we DID have class, however, we would be reviewing one of the "Top 5" lessons in the entire Trek program:  Perceptions and Expectations.

For a quick review:

  • "Perceptions" are how we think the world IS. 
  • "Expectations" are how we think the world WORKS.
  • "Definitions" are a basic statement of the nature or meaning of something.

As we were talking about this with our students - both teens and adults - we mentioned something:  Nobody - and we do mean nobody - sees "reality" as it really is!  We all have biases, experiences that have made us create definitions and perceptions that cause us to view something other than the way it really is.  (If you disagree, think of a phobia you have.  That phobia is a distortion of reality!)  

But, something came up in our discussions and I wanted to share it with you.  The question we were asked is, "What's the difference between 'reality' and 'truth'?"

If you look them up in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary (and we did!), you'll find that the definition for both of them is quite similar:

  • Reality - "the quality of being real, the totality of real things and events".
  • Truth - "the property of being in accord with fact or reality".

But, if we can't see reality because our definitions and perceptions have changed our viewpoint, can we ever know "truth"?  (It's getting very philosophical here, but stay with me!)  

The simple answer: No, unless...  And the "unless" makes all the difference in the world! 

So, how do we find truth?

1. We collect a series of viewpoints to help us understand what is real. 

If I only focus on my pain, I can never see reality.  Why?  Because my pain only shows me one side of the world around me.  Even if I work to heal from my pain, if I do it alone, I can never see reality.  Why?  Because my experiences have created definitions that I'm not even aware that I have.  Let me give you an example:

I had a teen who I told was brilliant...and I sincerely meant it!  His ability to do woodworking was something I had only seen in some very old men who had spent a lifetime "perfecting" their craft!  Unfortunately, he had been told that he was "worthless", that he would "never amount to anything", that we was "no good".  Even if he worked on changing those definitions by himself, he would need outside definitions to help him see who he really was and what he really could be.  I saw "brilliant", and I could show him objectively by comparing what he could do with the world around him; something he couldn't see on his own.

So, finding truth on your own, is impossible...  (I have an expectation that I'll get some responses on that statement!)

2. We test the viewpoints we get against what we can observe. 

If someone tells me that I can't do anything right, and yet I do something right, what does that tell me about their viewpoint?  That it's wrong!  If someone tells me that I'm unlovable, yet I have proof that someone loves me, then what does that tell me about their viewpoint?  That it's wrong!

We need to look for truth by checking what we "know to be true" against what is happening in our lives.  If what we know or what we're told doesn't match with what we see, if can't be true!

Finally, and this one is going to be "controversial" to some of our readers, but one last way we can find truth:

3. God tells us what is true.

If there is a God, then His perception of reality HAS to be true.  Why?  Because, according to the Bible, He made it!  When He defined "light" or "matter" or "time" or "space", those things began.  

As such, if God were to look at you and tell you who you are, His definition would be correct; even if your perception disagreed.  Why?  Because His viewpoint includes everything, while ours is very, very limited.

So, the easiest way to find "truth" is to let God - if you believe in Him - show it to you through the Bible and through other, healthy believers who can help build you up into who God wants you to be.

Sorry for the philosophy so early in the morning, but hopefully it all worked out right in the end.  No matter what you believe or what your background is, we sincerely hope that you will pursue truth, find reality and come to believe in who you are and who you were created to be!

We hope you enjoy your journey!

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